Why I Adore Mel Brooks (and other stuff)

In Mel Brooks’s world beautiful women get to be hysterically funny. Not the butt of the joke, and not punished for being beautiful and sexy either. (Hello, Ginger Grant.) Even Cloris Leachman’s hatchet-faced crones were allowed a bit of backstory.

 

Btw, ‘blucher’ is not German for ‘glue’. Truth is nobody knows why the horses scream at her name except that it’s funny.

Which brings me neatly to the meat the of the thing – I’m funny.

“No, duh, LA. You think we come here for the recipes?”

Shut it, you. I’m being sincere. This figuring out of ownership has lead down some interesting avenues. Lately I’ve been unpicking my resistance to letting my funny flag fly.

#1 – Fear of displeasing, thus angering men. Pffft! Thanks to middle-aged-woman stealth technology I can disappear at will so I feel a lot safer than I used to. Double-plus bonus: my husband thinks I’m hilarious. We get the sillies all the time, one of the best bluchers in a good and lasting marriage is laughing together. When you can’t (or won’t) crack each other up anymore your relationship is in trouble.

#2 – Being funny is trashy. Wow, thanks, Mom. Nice going with the classist bullcrap. My mother had a phobia about ever being lumped in with our working class neighbors. Volume was a marker. Can’t be classy if you’re brassy. Loud = Bawdy = Hoarse whiskey laugh = So on until ‘madam of a New Orleans whorehouse’ – a crummy one with a tone-deaf piano player and corn shuck mattresses. Loud was bad. Being constantly shhh-ed was an attempt at staving off blowsiness.

blowsy

Though at 6 I was getting my snark on too. Imagine being sliced down ala Dorothy Parker by a first grader with a lisp and braided pigtails. Roasted by Cindy Brady. Neither of my parents appreciated they’d birthed a raconteur and did their best to slap me out of it. My da because my humor challenged his authority and my dim mother knew she was being mocked even if she didn’t get it.

#3 – I will look foolish. Oh honey, that ship went over the horizon ages ago. Never did get the hang of ‘normal’. Ach, that used to sting, always being ‘off’. Gosh, normal seemed like such a safe and peaceful place, “Hey, did you see LA today?” “I know, right? She is so normal!” The thing is you’re always going to stumble into tribal trip-lines because ‘normal’ is an ever-shifting perspective.

*Speaking of looking foolish – my clothing is styled around comfort still with a hefty slug of personality/politics, but mostly comfort these days. After decades of it I so wearied of people reading me wrong despite a carefully curated outside identifying me as ‘a meat-eating Leftie feminist earth goddess artistic individual’ that I gave up many of the more strident identifiers of being unique. Because ageing keeps upping the ante when it comes to message dressing. To maintain my cool kid cred I know by now I’d be in gold lame Hammer pants worn with mukluks, and a vest made of bottle caps, dyed porcupine quills and sun-cured goat scrotums. Being weird in your 50’s takes too much thought and effort. I’ll be over here in the droopy sweater and plain black leggings being boring, mainstream, and oh so comfortable.

#4 – People expect you to be ‘on’ all the time. I know this from bitter experience. So far I’ve fired a chiropractor, changed hygienists at the dentist, and run through FIVE therapists because of this. Really, what kind of mental health counselor insists their patient be amusing? One actually said, “Come on, LA! I count on you to brighten up my day!” WHAT? Did the person I am paying out of pocket to help me with my issues just chide me for not being amusing enough? (I gave up B&N runs to afford you! I sacrificed books, you cow!) What the actual fuck, lady?

Nowadays I try to curb my whimsy with medicos so they stick to taking care of me. Had a good time at Monday’s well visit though. My PA is terrific. Whip-smart, perceptive, and a good listener. (I must also say she’s gorgeous. And caught in the same damn trap I used to be in that gorgeous women aren’t allowed to be smart and funny too.) Monday’s physical was the starting line for a promise I made myself back in November that after my birthday this year I would Do All The Things! I left the office with appointments and prescriptions for all the glorious fun that comes with middle-age. Cameras! In my gut and up my butt! X-rays! Ultrasounds! MRIs! With and without contrast! I’ll be handing over so much body fluid I’ll be a one-woman Tarantino film. Being good to myself involves more than the occasional popcorn and Oreo dinner. It means getting my teeth cleaned and my cervix swabbed. And it’s meant finally getting serious about being funny.

I don’t want my humor to go to waste. I think about Carrie Fisher and how her podcast would have been AWESOME. But she’s not here. I’m no Carrie Fisher. I don’t have to be. All I have to be is me…and not get in my own way. Something I excel at. Self-sabotage. Sometimes I’ve let myself down so badly it makes me furious. I’m working on letting go of my fear and it is brutal to excavate down through all the layers of elegant and convincing arguments about why I didn’t do this thing or that until I get to the quivering mess of truth at the bottom – PAIN. I hate it. The idea I’d deliberately invite pain is horrifying. And haven’t I paid my dues? Why set myself up for the rampant misogyny – the threats of rape and death and the rest of the putrid output from the incels, ammosexuals, and holy rollers? Why take on the shit-storm of being funny while female? And OMG the especial Hell reserved for uppity chicks with opinions on the internet? Why, LA?

Because letting myself down again is worse.

I have some very specific goals with firm deadlines, insofar as I know until we get our taxes done. Big changes this year and I fret over owing. We’ll know on the 12th. After that we’ll adjust accordingly. (We did. We owe. Oh woe.) Once the necessary electronics are in place I become a podcaster. Looking forward to learning the editing tools. Why speak when I can just keep writing? Because I have quite a bit to discuss with everybody and there’s an intimacy to being alone with someone via ear buds. There’s a particular cant I want to capture, the one you’re hearing now inside your head.

“OMG! You sound just like I thought you would!” Favorite-est compliment ever.

Can I get the voice in my head to come out of my mouth on the reg? Especially when you can’t see my waved hands and facial expressions? I’m going to find out. The coming year is brewing a bruiser. Nobody’s coming out unbloodied. And a soft landing spot amongst all the shouty pointy places will be a good thing.

Please re-read the previous paragraph. It took almost half an hour to write. I edit as I go and it took all that time to carve off the qualifiers. I backtracked and replaced the squishy ‘maybes’ with ‘will’ and ‘am’. The time for hesitancy is over. All people of good conscience must come out loudly for decency. We must demand accountability from those we hired to office and insist they explain their actions.

 

Also we must remember (or learn) how to be okay with one another.

We have to face the truth: The Death Eaters are running the Ministry. And might for another four years. Ugly, dangerous, short-sighted, cruel ignorance will be making policy, and the rankest, lowest, most vile gloating from the Trumpers is going to make what I’m proposing a real challenge.

We need to stop arguing.

You cannot prove anything to a Trump fanatic. Might as well try discussing spreadsheets with a meth-head. Nobody is home. So stop already. Yes, I know it’s maddening. But it’s done. There isn’t one single thing we can do to stop any of this rooting and looting of our government until November. Of course we want to step back from this filth to not only point out all the crimes and outrages, but to assure ourselves and others that we are NOT complicit. But arguing with those smacked out of their gourds on the joy of being as stupid and ugly-souled as they are IN PUBLIC  and have their messiah act the same damn way, nope. Go beat your head against a wall.

You want to help? Don’t neg out arguing with some Faux News zombie…volunteer to be a poll watcher. This is where the real crime is going down. They ARE going to steal this election if we let them. Go now and help people register. Assure them our elections haven’t been completely corrupted at the ballot box. Be there. Hang around outside and do exits polls. Make sure they know we are watching. That the world is watching.

Until then, let us support one another. Do not allow discord to grow. Work through grudges by venting to a trusted friend and then letting that mess go. Try not to be scared or feel rejected when your overtures are met with hostility or a blank look. I greet everybody as I go about my rounds. Occasionally I’ll get a run of people who ignore me and instead of brooding about it and deciding people are shit and not worth the effort I turn it around, I’ll dash up to a co-worker and say, “Can you see me?” “Uh, yeah. Why?” “Okay, the last 10 people I said hello to didn’t answer and I thought maybe I’d become invisible.” We laugh. My hurtsy feelings are assuaged. Co-worker has a chuckle. Life carries on.

“My mercy exceeds my anger” – basically every holy writ since ever.

 

My love always, ~LA

 

LA at 57*

*Started then, finished now.

It’s my birthday! This formerly ugly and sad personal holiday has become a favorite. I truly love my birthday these days because it gives me a reason to hand out treats and hug people.

I am genuinely that glad to be here.

In previous years at work I gave out cupcakes. Fun, but they are awkward to eat discretely. (A must on the sales floor. Hygiene.) This year I baked two big batches of brownies and went off this morning with a few dozen in my big snap-lid goodie carrier. (They were still warm. So chewy.) I snagged a bag of gluten-free chocolate covered pretzels when I got to work and while waiting to pay offered a brownie to my pal, Nick, who’d stopped to gab, and the very polite customer behind me. Startled but pleased the customer thanked me and took one. Elise was taking forever to open her register and I needed to git, so I asked Nick if he’d pay for the pretzels and bring them and the change down to the department. He nodded, I handed him money and off I trotted. Traveling the breadth of the store to get to my department I offered brownies to the night crew and the early vendors (at least the ones I like) that I passed on my trek. Newbies wondered why I was giving out treats on my birthday, but the long-timers know I do and looked forward to it. This year’s treat was the ‘Hamilton’ of treats!

Brownies are magic.

Apparently so are gluten-free chocolate covered pretzels. When she saw the pretzels MJ got a wee misty. She protested their cost and yappa, yappa. Nope. “It’s my birthday and everyone gets treats, MJ. You’re part of my everyone.” Squeezy hug. All fine. MJ has recently been finding boundaries. Not what she must fend off, but what she is NOT responsible for. It’s good to see her set down some burdens that weren’t hers to tote in the first place. In fact there’s been a sharp falloff in spinning and crabbing with everyone since I joined the 6:00 am crew. I am not the Dalai Lama, I am purposeful in my relentless cheerfulness and subject changing, diversion by pun, riff, movie reference. I have on occasion gone full-on Elsa swirling and swooping around the department massacring ‘Let It Go’ in my hideous trollish singing voice. I reached the zenith the other day when the three most apt to “What if…?” and get loud about it started a complaint tornado. Nuh uh. Quit it. Right now. I busted out the ultimate movie reference.

 

All three got it and laughed.

It’s 6:00 am, if we have to be here in the cold dark doing other people’s grocery shopping let us keep perspective. If a thing is wrong and you can fix it, do so. If you can’t fix it but know who can, then go tell them and have it fixed. If this problem is frankly none of your business and something you have absolutely no input on…shut up. Seriously. Be quiet. And for Pete’s sake stop keeping score! Do the decent thing because it’s a mitzvah. A blessing that’s yours to give. Find happiness and share it.

Is that too woo woo? Especially for those of you who knew me as a fragile sphere of bruises, hurt, and utter selfishness with zero self-esteem when I first went online? “Good Lord, Margaret, that LA on the internet finally grew up.” Dude, I’m 57, it’s about time.

turkey

I got my mother this mug during that murky time as a young adult when I believed finally wringing approval and acceptance from her would somehow validate me. She liked the mug. That’s something, I guess. Anyway, this adorably trite motto has become my philosophy. Basically: don’t accept fake authority, don’t carry freight you don’t have to, and don’t let the neg crowd rob you of joy.

As for managing the tone in the department in the wee s’mas…can you blame me? I’m as entitled to the tone being light, with forgiveness and patience being the norm as my more fraught coworkers are to discord and aggravation.

“You want smoking or non-smoking?”

I am not above deliberate refocusing away from their needless neg and into more of a shared amused snort…and then I push hard toward this:

Always_Look_Bright_Side_Life

Good journey to Terry Jones. His post-Python work was brilliant too and those travelogues were hilarious! Which proves that you can be factual, polite, culturally sensitive, plus be amused and amusing without being a dillhole of any sort.

This, btw, is much more a British thing. I told Mick just the other day that I spend an astonishing amount of my online time watching educated English granddads go places and talk about the stuff there. Though Stephen Fry is irritating. Absolutely. Even when I’m laughing I’m thinking, “Oh, get off it, you plummy git.” What? He is. Fight me.

I may have to go password for a while, I opened a portal from this life into my work one and until any FB snafus are worked out I am being diligent about who can get here via FB. I DO NOT want my private life splattered all over a crew of mixed interests and intents from work. I feel incredibly vulnerable. Not a feeling I enjoy in the least. Scared is scared and I hate it and don’t seek it out as entertainment.

 

Hair on end even though I badly need a cut, ~LA

 

 

 

“All right, who gave her the meme?”

Hil did! Hil the Artist! https://teespring.com/peace-takes-courage?pid=369&cid=6513&fbclid=IwAR0jXY8TMzue0v_rPyfxVAJEwKyZOC7X-POX7XZDsBYQmZvC0LWFqTBBXvM Bah. Most of you know who she is and can pass it along to those who don’t yet. Because you guys need to see her stuff! And buy it! Hello? Investment! Along with loving it because it’s beautiful I can absolutely see me some years hence languidly waving toward the Hil the Artist gallery wing in my home, “Why, yes, that is ‘Triptych #2’ from her ‘Mirror and Stone’ period.” “Well of course we had to have it appraised for insurance, but I can’t discuss that.” (Silently mouth, “Big money!”) Art does NOT have to have a high dollar value to have worth, but talent will out and I believe Hil’s work is the right voice in the right time.
hil hill
Let’s dish, shall we?
Name: LA
Nicknames: I will always answer to ‘Mom’ regardless of source, though ‘Nana’ is starting to creep in via customers’ little ones, it’s unknown whether I’m Nana from my obviously grandmotherly vibe or because I often offer bananas from the kids’ table.
Sign: It’s usually a key. Keys are quite lucky for me and signs of good things to come. Oh, the other kind. Aquarian, if you hadn’t already guessed from the windy answers.
Superpower: I can and will talk to anyone. I am preposterously charming.
Nemesis: Cruelty and intellectual dishonesty/laziness. Do some damn research of your own! Source those stories and quotes. And for everyone’s sake, especially those of us with more than 4 brain cells, there is NO DEBATE: the Earth is ROUND.
Birthplace: NY. Again, pretty obvious. Chutzpah is my birthright.
Favorite Book (or one of them!): ‘The Good Earth’ by Pearl Buck.
Passions: Language! Good words are like good food – yummy and satisfying.
Fave color: Despite my funereal wardrobe I actually love color, especially jewel tones. Jewel-toned velvet especially, especially.
Fave season: One of the ways I’m choosing to live in the now is how I view the seasons and weather. I try to find it all beautiful. I’m tired of railing at everything. I am choosing not to bother getting angry because it snowed. Or wishing away a whole season just to get to the one I like most.
Fave animal: Humans. Endlessly fascinating, if often infuriating to watch.
Fave musical genre: I truly adore the music I grew up with – AM radio Top 40 from the 60’s-the early 80’s. The 70’s spawned a lot of my favorite songs/artists, but the endless refrains and minutes (hours) long indulgent guitar riffing drove and still drives me mad. This commercial became a code with us about bad bands or good bands with bad songs, we’d say, “Who recorded this? The Anacin Threes?”
Special skills: I can swear in many languages. Including Mandarin, Arabic, Klingon, and ASL. Though Klingon swearing is just talking and everyone knows a obscene hand gesture or two.
buffy-spike-c
Best day ever: The day Jonas Salk decided to give the polio vaccine to the whole world. That was a very good day. The day Nelson Mandela walked out of prison. Another good’un. Again I prefer not to pick a day of my own, I might not have had my Best Day Ever yet! Today was a Really Decent Day though. It began when I woke to an amazing pea soup fog outside. Others thought the fog was dangerous, icky, even scary. I was enchanted, if a dragon or a hunting party of elves came by it wouldn’t be amiss. In the dampness I could smell everything! I wanted to ride with my head out the window like a dog.
Speaking of dogs and cars did I ever tell you guys about my mom and the giant Scottish poodle? No? Oy, classic mom.
At the time of this story my mother was working in northern New Jersey. Her commute was full of lively adventures and weird shit that never happened to anyone else. Like the time she accidentally joined a funeral procession while following a detour through an unfamiliar neighborhood. Not at the end, nope she was #5 behind the hearse with at least a dozen behind her. Afraid she’d get lost if she turned off she did the only thing she could…she popped her headlights on and just stayed in the line until the detour turn came up.
The day of the dog all of us were in the kitchen making dinner and setting the table when we heard the garage door rumble up beneath our feet and knew she was home. Cigarettes out. Stereo down. Hair and clothing neatened. Visine if needed. The door from the cellar stairs into the kitchen burst open and in staggers my mother, literally clutching her chest. She’s white as copy paper. All wobble-legged she gets across the kitchen, pulls a chair from the table and plops into it. We four are looking questions at each other which quickly devolved into a silent argument. “You ask her!” “No, you ask her.” Before the hissing and pinching could start my mother takes a deep breath and says in a rush, “I just saw a dog driving a car!”
Immediately we go still. If we look at each other we’re dead. Laughing when her Maj is upset is a dangerous thing, mighty dangerous. However I couldn’t let this one go. “A dog? Driving a car? What kind?”
“An Oldsmobile.”
“No, Mom, what kind of dog?”
“A poodle. A big grey poodle! And it was wearing a plaid hat. One of those with the pom-pom on top.”
“A tam o’ shanter?”
“Yes. And a vest to match.”
“I don’t know, Mom, a poodle in plaid is unlikely. You sure it wasn’t a Scottie dog?”
A look of pure disgust from Mom. “What. Is. Wrong. With. You? A Scottie dog is MUCH too small to drive a car!” Then she started to cry. “It was a poodle! A big poodle! In a hat and a vest! And it was driving an Oldsmobile up North Main Street! How? How can a dog drive a car?”
“He must have had his dog license!”
I was driven from the room by various flung objects and to this day have a divot in my hairline where she got me with the TV Guide.
Many thanks to Hil. See you soon.
Much love, ~LA

Free Crap

The decrappifying of my life continues. I am not getting rid of ‘clutter’ I am on a mission to get rid of the CRAP. And you know what? It’s working.

No secret I am an absolute tightwad. I don’t even pay retail for food. Besides working with a stellar crew of interesting people the happiest perk of my job is nabbing the best of the sales and post-season discounted stuff. For instance any cut meat that’s coming up on 48 hours of its sell-by date* gets yellow tagged. 30% off. And I am there watching the tags go on and taking it straight from Benji’s hand.

*Sell-by date. Let us have a wee chat about food freshness and the various ways food is marked for it. Products with a very short shelf life – usually raw meats or prepared at the store baked goods and sandwiches from the deli and sushi have a ‘sell-by’ date. Dairy products are marked this way too. How long those products are considered ‘fresh’ is set by the health department. This does NOT mean the food instantly spoils at the stroke of midnight the day after its sell-by. When food has a ‘sell by’ use your judgement, you know when something’s off. Now the designation ‘best by’ is a whole other animal. That is set by the product manufacturers themselves and is mainly to get people to throw stuff away and buy a new one. There is nothing wrong with that box of mac-n-cheese from 2006 unless the mice got into it. Occasionally things will degrade even if they’re unopened. Rule of thumb: the gooier it is the shorter the shelf life. Thus if archeologists unearthed some spaghetti from some Roman-era shop in Stara Zagora it would still be edible. After cooking, of course.

And what does being a tightwad mean about the decrappification of Casa Sage? Why…everything! Do you have any idea how hard it is for me to get rid of something I paid actual money for? That thing represents hard work! And probably my warrior level thrift skills too. It’s a perfectly good thing. And I might need it! And if I don’t have this one I’d have to (shudder) buy it again! GAH!

Ah yes, the Hoarder’s Creed: “I might need it someday!” Fluffed out by a tightwad’s pride in being the Beast Mistress of Bargains! Add in some guilt and shame about the rare impulse purchases that didn’t pan out. The unused wok, that weird mustard yellow sweater. A thrice-worn lipstick (too bright, looks like cartoon ‘horny granny’ on me). Can YOU throw away a barely used lipstick? I am and I am not getting in my own way about it either. No plans to melt all the ugly lipsticks together and make a better color out if them. Daydream Pintrest bullshit. A poultice on my aching wallet. Ain’t gonna happen and I am not lying to myself about this anymore. Guilt and shame and ‘practicality’ can go whistle. I am unencumbering my life. I am also verbing adjectives. Freeing myself of the tyranny of ‘proper’ grammar is just another way I am lightening my load.

Sensing a theme, my darlings?

It’s taken a lifetime to get here. And ‘here’ is not a static place in space or mind. But I don’t have a destination either. What I’ve learned is to pick off the barnacles and dirty sucking leeches and free my thinking from their crusty draining yuck. The time for appeasing is over too. Here’s a shocker – about 92% of the appeasing I did was totally unnecessary. A thankless treadmill I set myself on and not a darn thing would have happened if I hadn’t. I was scared though and raw and figured my safest option was to filter everything through what ‘they’ liked. My family, of course. But bosses, friends, and especially enemies, were in there too. I used this enormous card catalog I kept on everyone. Favorite flavors, room temperatures, TV shows, etc to serve their needs always first, always, always. In fact, my default opinion was “Have I done enough to forestall insults and criticism? Are they sated and content? Yes? Whew.”

I’m no fonder of pain than I ever was. Cheap shots always hurt regardless of source. Telling someone to ignore a cheap shot is like saying, “Oh, forget it! Not worth your time.” to somebody who’d just been gut punched. They’re bent over, all the air whoofed out of their lungs, clutching themselves trying not to puke from the pain and shocking cruelty, and they’re supposed to IGNORE it? Nuh uh. That’s really unhelpful. And unkind. Too much damage is being done right now by those who refuse to acknowledge others’ right to pain. That’s what we really mean when we question the humanity of the Trumpsters. “How is this pain okay with you?” To stand firm against their indifference and truly frightening lack of empathy we begin here: I see you and I am listening.

I know this because I finally see me. I listen. And when a thought comes in loaded with crud I carefully pick through and pluck it at the root if I can. I ask why a lot. Why do I think I’m bad at technical stuff? Why can’t I have red sneakers? Why will the world end if I don’t make dinner? Using why is really fucking useful.

Also a useful question when decrappifying. Why do I have service for 40 in my china closet? To say nothing of the Christmas dish set in the credenza and the three sets of everyday ware? Why? In my old life I used all that stuff, plus the punchbowl and the serving pieces made for banquets, at the old house it was normal to have a dozen for dinner and a hundred for parties. It was fun, but it’s over and this stuff needs to go. And I am not lying to myself about its supposed value. Nothing I’m getting rid of is wonderful. Or unique. I detest garage sales. Having one, I mean. Too impatient and despite my love of a buck I cannot bear hagglers. I’m fine if a thrift shop can take stuff, but no qualms about chucking it if they don’t. No eBay. No consignments. I need this crap gone and I need it gone ASAP. For large things I will country freecycle them. (End of driveway with ‘free’ placard.) Wake up, crap! Tornado LA is bearing down on you, prepare to whoosh.

Vortex with hearts, love message. Feeling, mood

Much love, ~ Tornado LA

Draft 60

 

4-old-typewriter-font

I started to type that I was talking with ‘a friend’ but it bothered me. Certainly I like this person and care about what’s doing with them but ‘friend’ is too big for our most casual of relationships. Yet to designate someone ‘an acquaintance’ usually means either they are new in your life and at some point you will become friends OR they are someone you deliberately keep at arm’s length because interacting with this person is involuntary and you don’t care for them and you only act decent because that’s what grown-ups do.

My relationship with this person is unlikely to get any bigger. Which is totally fine, btw. You don’t have to be goombas* with every single person in your life. I need a title that conveys a mild and pleasant relationship based mostly in propinquity and mutual interests. I know that’s exactly what ‘acquaintance’ means!!! But that word is chilly or misleading. I’d like a nicer designation, please. Pal, bud, buddy are too comic strip. Something respectful, non-binary, and not cutesy. We are all word junkies here. A gang this nuanced and creative can come up with something.

You may have noticed I’ve changed over to ‘they’. I’m finally all in because I really thought about why I was having so much difficulty with it and realized it was truly only 15% for clarity’s sake. The 85%? Ego. All biggety for being educated and using language ‘correctly’. Oh? Okay, Miss Satin Underpants. To make matters worse I have always felt entitled to change the language to convey best meaning, yet I resisted others’ right to make the same demands of language. And for much better purpose than being creative too. People are fighting to be included in the everyday stream of common communication without it being a whitewater rapid of scares and buffeting and hurt on top of hurt banging into people’s bullshit all day. Every day. If that’s not a reason to stop being such a gate-keeper of the syntax I don’t know what is.

oxford

Learn better, do better.

More language – * goomba. Originally it meant someone of Italian descent and therefore automatically at the front of the line in favors, protection, and opportunities from other Italians. Instant loyalty. Then two, three generations in and things weren’t as straightforward so if a guy named Sal introduced you to Bobby McNary and said Bobby was his goomba you knew that Bobby was likely Sal’s nephew or the guy his cousin is engaged to. Sal was vouching for Bobby. He was also saying if Bobby was a screw-up he, Sal, would fix it. And not always in the kid’s favor either.

If this all sounds ‘Godfather’-ish it is and it isn’t. Before Yelp people depended on word of mouth. Worked pretty well too. Oh wow, I am just this second realizing something – there was always one garage and one pizza place that was awful. As in: ‘sawdust in the gas tank used cars’ and ‘pizza the same flavor and texture as the box’ terrible and yet those shitty businesses had a band of devoted customers who shrilly defended their places as the very best and you were stupid and mean for saying you preferred a different place. You might even be a commie. Tada! Trump voters. They’ve always been with us, it’s simply that the internet allowed them to clump together for the first time. At last! After all those years limping along alone in their butt-hurt moral indignation they found all the other butt-hurt cardboard pizza eating, shitbox car driving pouty folk and banded together and made Trump their messiah. If the country were not going to pieces I’d sort of enjoy their consternation at the irrefutable evidence that yes, they ARE stupid and what they think is good is simply wrong. Sooo certain their way would work. Rightie-o.

Yes, I know the word for this is schadenfreude. Smarty pantses.

Not in the least bit Christmassy yet. Not humbuggy, it’s like the holidays just aren’t there. I have little to prepare for. This makes Sebastian a bit sad, but it can’t be helped. The three of us will put together something special and share a nice day together. Definitely a festive meal served on the rarely used holiday dishes with fancy napery. For afterward I have a new goofy game picked out. At SIL’s there’s a crowd large enough to play CAH, our usual after dinner activity, but I’m taking advantage of having enough room to move around and think this game will make us fall down laughing. It’s like Hot Potato only with fake excrement. Like with playing Cards Against Humanity there’s nothing that says, “Welcome, Baby Jesus!” more than Pass the Poop.

Yeah, when you think of the O’Gaelic Clan you think ‘classy’.

 

Love and kisses, ~LA

Tapas

Speaking of delicious bits of meat, Mick and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary recently. Oh hush! I meant we went out for dinner at the Brazilian steakhouse and the place was even better than I’d heard. (Don’t you love it when a recommendation exceeds expectation? I’m always sad when someone is wildly enthused about a place and we go there and it’s okay, but not GREAT!!!!!! like our friend said. I try believe that my friend’s good time was a combo of meh restaurant and great company so it remembers better than it actually is. Otherwise I have to go with, “Dude! How low are your standards? Yuck.” And then worry I’m being a snot. But no. Applebee’s will always be trashy. The sticky tables. The sticky menus. The beatdown tiredness of the furniture and decor. The place reeks of overly microwaved airline dinners. Which is what 96% of their food is. Prepackaged right onto the plate at some assembly factory in Sri Lanka, flash frozen until being thawed in the homey goodness of an Applebee’s lovingly tended microwave oven. Blargh.)

Where was I? Oh yeah, the fabulous anniversary meal. Blew us right out of our diner complacency. Some places ARE worth the higher price. I’m sure Brazilian steakhouse chains are popping up everywhere. If you’d like a total carnivore immersion but done so cleverly your gluttony feels classy somehow, then I heartily suggest you go to a Brazilian steakhouse for your next “Let’s blow a wad on dinner” occasion.

Yeah, so 10 years married. OMG, I haven’t told you about how I’m finally able to stop keening over the wedding dress that wasn’t! I’ve moved my dress fantasies to the red carpet. Sebastian promised me I’m his date at the first red carpet event he attends, especially if he’s a nominee. Look, the dress to go with my kid to an awards event is far more doable than a wedding gown anyway. So far I have two levels of dress chosen. The local dress if he’s invited to an indie film festival and the ‘Golden Globes and Above’ dress. If nothing else I can now actually visualize the real me. There was no way not to look a complete fool in the froth of tulle and lace my heart ached for so I never got as far as actually mentally wearing the wedding dress. Awards dresses are another animal entirely. Especially the less formal indie awards dress. Aligns in my fashion wheelhouse perfectly.

Wanna hear about it? Of course you do. My indie awards outfit begins with a jersey skater dress. A hefty jersey with good drape and swing. A simple round neckline, long fitted sleeves in season, and a mid-calf hem that I can totally pull off because I am so tall. For day it’s pale grey and for evening a deep, deep garnet. Knee-high boots or oddball Nordic maryjanes, of course. From that basic outfit you can go anywhere. As I age I’m finding my accessory game is getting both bolder and more streamlined. I don’t make noise anymore either. Lordy, I spent three decades jingling and clanking. Now that so much of my hearing is gone I have to ask Mick if my outfit clatters. I have a fringed pashmina that has wee bells woven into the fringes and I didn’t know that the first time I wore it. First I found out was when Mick asked me if I was doing ‘some witch thing’ that summoned pixies, otherwise what the hell was that weird tinkling noise?

My son’s career is ticking along nicely. It’s slower in the winter, but not entirely dried up. The blessing of being a Universal White Guy. Can I be personally grateful for my son’s ubiquity while bemoaning that ‘nice looking white guy’ is still the default position of extras casting? So many ways to unpack and challenge that. I will tell you beneath Sebastian’s popped collar polo shirt exterior beats the heart of a freedom fighter. In a discussion of career opportunities Atlanta came up and I mused maybe he should relocate, at least in the winter. My kid drew back and spat. “Mom! The abortion laws!” And just like that I put down the last of my concerns about my son’s character. When I tell people I’d like my kid even if he weren’t mine I’m quite serious. He’s a good guy.

navy suit

Inside and out.

moto jacket

So now I will wrap up this entry about my 10th wedding anniversary that I didn’t really talk about.

No, wait. There’s a few things I’d like to share about my husband.

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#1 – Without Mick I do not believe my son would be pursuing a career in the movies. Thanks to Mick’s hard work Seb has an extraordinary amount of freedom. A deliberate construct, we’ve settled our household around maximizing what we can do for each other based on skill set, time, ambition, and finances. Seb inherited his tightfisted-ness from me so he’s a frugal guy, but it’s Mick’s salary and a pension he sweated blood for that truly keep us afloat. To insist Sebastian be wholly self-supporting right now would be the end of his acting career. He’d need two jobs plus a gig like driving Grub Hub just to go half starve in a cockroach palace. Acting? Auditioning? Costume fittings? Yeah, right.

#2 – Our relationship is ever evolving. We allow room for growth and growing pains. We also consult but do not ask permission. If I’m going to witch camp I consult Mick because he does the budget. He has the bill calendar in his head and can tell me when it’s cool to buy my ticket. But whether I attend or not is wholly up to me. Mick plays pickleball on Thursdays. SIL goes too. Not only does Mick get in a kickass workout, he spends time with his only sibling in an environment they both understand – athletic competition. My guy loves his pickleball and I do everything I can to see that he gets there well-rested, well-fed, and unburdened of spirit.

#3 – He finds a way every single day to say, “I love you” in deed and/or word. Mick’s love is so strong and unconditional I feel safe enough to be vulnerable in front of him. Safe? With a man? Yes. Really. Who knew there were men who didn’t hit or hurt or piss away the support structure of our life on vanity projects and fun that only he gets to have? The good men are real and I’m married to one and it’s glorious.

I’m going to eat the second in a trio of donuts Mick brings on Sundays. Every Sunday. To get them he has to make a left across traffic both ways and sometimes there’s a line, but inconvenienced, bone tired, anxious to get home to shuck the uniform and relax, doesn’t matter to Mick, my guy is GOING to bring me donuts.

 

Blowing sugar-glazed kisses, ~LA

 

 

Enough With The Box Metaphor Already

When I was in high school a really good friend asked me to teach her how to smoke cigarettes. I refused. Absolutely not. I cared about my friend far too much to be party to helping her hurt herself. She got huffy with me. I didn’t budge. My friend was an inspired viola player. So talented she attended a conservatory after high school and went on to play in city orchestras across the US. At the time all I knew was she was wicked talented and needed to be in the music department doing her thing and not hanging with the derelicts like me outside in the smoking lounge or off campus at the diner. No. No smoking lessons, I didn’t care how bad she wanted me to teach her. Friends watch out for each other. She’d be glad later on.

Was I truly that sure of my convictions at 16? You betcha. I’m sneakier, uh, more diplomatic *ahem* these days, but the bottom line hasn’t wavered much. I will never, ever teach anybody to smoke.

In the same vein I will always do my utmost to prevent someone from asking The Shitty Question.

Because The Shitty Question has a million answers and none. The Shitty Question is the wrong question. It’s hurtful. There is never a good reason why someone doesn’t love you back, there just isn’t. Next to death, not being loved back (or loved anymore) is the worst.

Makes for great music though.

 

I absolutely believe this ability to sometimes dial in on what people are thinking, especially what people are THINKING REALLY LOUDLY,  is a natural ability. For one thing lots of folks can do it. Another thing is the physiological response I have, people’s emotions twang on my nervous system, often in tandem with the REALLY LOUD THOUGHTS. Mind/body, yadda, yadda.

What I don’t know is where this ability draws its juice from. A basketball player is only as good as their knees. A contralto may have a longer career than a soprano because thickening (ageing) vocal cords don’t dent their range as severely, but eventually Life wins and all women end up reedy baby birds or sounding like Nina Blackwood after a weekend bender. A hockey player accepts he’ll lose some teeth, bust his nose a few times, and be wearing a cast or stitches somewhere on his body for as long as he laces skates. They all know where their juice comes from and what it costs them. I don’t. This makes me anxious. I allow my superstitious dread to call the shots occasionally because it’s soothing. Ritual serves a legit purpose. Sometimes a few. Along with permitting me a spurious but calming feeling that I have a measure of control in a chaotic and jelly-side-down universe, I use my best intentions as a kickboard. I go along pushing the best of me in front. The idea of taking advantage of a hurt person in any way freaks me out. Honestly it’s as abhorrent as putting my hand into a pie plate of maggots. Pained people need nurturing, not Miss Cleo.

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No, my dear one, I can’t tell you why he left or why she beat you or any other permutation of the Shitty Question. You don’t need answers right now, you need to cry. And bourbon. Just a couple. No drunk ex texting! Grieve now. We’ll talk again later. Next time we get together you and I will discover something grand.

Am I wrong to want to offer hope? I get to put my bossy pants to good use too. Wins all around there.

I don’t know if there’s any long term physical cost, but there might be! And I hope by being judicious and a stand-up sort of person that I’m not doing myself a damage when I deliberately go spelunking into someone’s inner works. Maybe dementia is carpal tunnel of the brain brought on by repeated ‘psychic’ activity. Who knows? I don’t. So I’m careful with that shit.

As for the random bulletins from passersby, meh. I feel like they’re a wash. They show up on their own. In situations like the customer who was broadcasting “God, I wanna fuck Coach Hot Body!” at the top of her mental lungs it feels like I need to burp. Without being able to let it out the feeling sticks around for a while then fades off. Only cruelty still has the power to ambush and dismay me. I’m pretty unshockable otherwise. How her fling with Coach Wild Thing would play out was absurdly predictable anyhow even if you’re psychically deaf. Okay, if Diablo Cody wrote it there’d some really sharp dialog, but otherwise ‘Mom Boffs Coach’ is a snore.

That’s the story, morning glory. Or glories, as the case may be. Many interesting ideas, you guys! I got a lot of brain fodder from the recent comments. I had a good think as I did the rounds with my crates and cart (and when I could get away with it my phone out playing my choice of soundtrack over the Endless Eighties from the ceiling speakers) this morning and was happy. I’m cleaning up my grimy house, why not take a whisk broom to the mental cobwebs too?

cobweb

Not sure I want to engage in Socratic method with grenade launchers every day, though.

When Sebastian was a tween his favorite thing to do was go to the water park in Seaside. Yes, we would pay a rather steep entrance fee to a hyper-chlorinated, completely manufactured water park exactly two blocks from the actual Atlantic Ocean. It actually makes sense from Sebastian’s point of view. The ocean is boring and lonely by yourself. Alone is good on a water slide. So while my lanky kid spent the day hustling up endless flights of stairs and flinging himself headfirst into fiberglass tubes that shot him into the landing pool with water up his nose and his trunks yoinked half off by the friction Mick and I completely dorked out on the Lazy River with our lashings of sunscreen, prescription shades and big straw hats. We’d drift round and round butts firmly jammed into our inner tubes holding hands. Occasionally we’d get goofy and ‘race’ each other and I’d always lose because fierce competitor Mick all bent over like that looked like Mike Wazowski in a sun hat and I’d be laughing too hard to paddle.

 

Drifting off now, ~LA